NI v Czech Republic


Lafferty believes the team and the squad have improved since the European qualifying campaign. “We have been scoring goals, we’ve only conceded twice and we are confident we can change our game to suit any eventuality,” he insisted. Lafferty’s seven goals played a huge role in qualification for France last summer but the defence have been the stars of the Russia World Cup 2018 campaign. Going into this weekend’s double header the only goals conceded - two of them - came in Germany, making Northern Ireland one of the meanest defences in Europe. Lafferty added: “Our defence have been incredible. A lot of the time it’s goalscorers who get the headlines and plaudits but we can’t overstate what the defence have done in this campaign. To concede so few goals against quality opposition is incredible. “But we really aren’t surprised. With the players we have in that position it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they have been capable of that. “When you are hard to beat it makes life so much easier for the strikers because we know if we can take our chances there is a good possibility we will win games. More often than not that is exactly what we are doing now and long may that continue.” The former Rangers and Norwich City ace is enjoying a new lease of life since moving back to Scotland with Hearts during the summer. He’s playing regularly and scoring and he reckons the move will be good not only for his club career but Northern Ireland as well. “I couldn’t be happier at Hearts,” said Lafferty. “Everyone knows it has been a really frustrating few years for me at club level and now I feel I’m at a club where hopefully I will make a difference. “I was delighted to score just before coming away on the international break and with the way we play I’m sure there will be more to come. “Playing every week has been good for me even though we are only in the first month of the season. “Like any footballer I’m happiest when I’m contributing to the side and I’m sure if I can do well at Hearts this season it will only help me with Northern Ireland, too.”

Position Striker Date Of Birth 16.09.1987 Place Of Birth Enniskillen


Height 193cm Weight 69kg




CLUBS Burnley


Darlington (loan)





25 34 31 14


Norwich City

Çaykur Rizespor (loan) Birmingham City (loan) Heart of Midlothian

6 4

Caps 62 Goals 20 INTERNATIONAL RECORD 10 SQUAD NO Debut 21.05.2006 v Uruguay (A) Lost 0-1

Northern Ireland U17 Northern Ireland U19 Northern Ireland U21 Northern Ireland B

5 6 2 1


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